The most common concerns expressed by my menopausal and postmenopausal patients are how easy it is to gain weight and how hard it is to lose weight. It's a real challenge, so much so that many women believe menopause causes a shift in the body that makes it impossible to lose weight. But is this really the case?
A recent study tried to answer the question by examining the eating habits of 419 overweight and obese menopausal and postmenopausal women.
Some women were encouraged to make eating behavior changes through regular meetings with nutritionists, exercise physiologists and psychologists while the other "controls" received only limited health education.
After four years, 57 percent of the postmenopausal women encouraged to make lifestyle changes maintained at least a 5-pound weight loss compared with 29 percent of the controls.
What food changes worked best to get weight off and to keep it off? Eating more fruits and vegetables but fewer desserts and sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as less meat and cheese, were key.
I know you've probably heard this before. But now it's a proven fact. And so is the reality that increased weight affects most menopausal women, and that this increases the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, particularly of her hips and knees.
The other thing that this study suggests: As you enter menopause and beyond, the rules for weight control are really the same as they are before menopause.
So how can you best use this information? Here are five steps you can easily take to lose weight in menopause and keep it off.
1. Make time to exercise daily. You don't have to run a marathon. Just 30 minutes daily walking or gardening or dancing. It doesn't even have to be at the same time -- add the times together for a total of 30 minutes.
2. Talk with a nutritionist. You'll be amazed at the stuff in your refrigerator and cabinets that isn't good for you that can be swapped out for healthier choices.
3. Keep the soda and sweetened juices out of the house. Try seltzer water with a lemon or lime wedge. So refreshing!
4. Keep fruit in a bowl in plain view. You'll be amazed at how it encourages snacking on them (and keep sweets out of view or better out of the house and use only as a treat). I love to snack on sliced apples flavored with cinnamon.
5. Pick a partner to exercise or walk with and pick a time to do it. It will become part of your schedule and, therefore, much more likely to do.
Click here for a free healthy recipe from my cookbook, Eat To Defeat Menopause.